Grant Lucas – Sports editor. A weekend full of Northwest Conference action did not end well for the Linfield men’s soccer team, losing to NWC first-place Whitworth University on Oct. 3, which was followed by a loss to Whitman College on Oct. 4.
The ’Cats drop to 3-6-1 overall and 2-3 in NWC play as they stand in sixth place in the conference.
”Our main problem this year has been consistency,” junior Carter Elhabbassi said. “Sometimes we’re playing awesome and are easily the best team in the league. But in other games we come out last. We just need to play to our potential at all times and get the most out of everyone.”
The Pirates struck early in their Oct. 3 matchup against the ’Cats. Whitworth senior Elly Bulega led the way, scoring twice in the first half.
Wildcat senior Kurtis Wong narrowed the deficit to one with an early second-half goal from the right side of the box.
Soon after, Elhabbassi evened the score with an assist from sophomore Zach Farrington.
The Pirates responded with a goal in the 73rd minute. Sophomore Justin Meyer dribbled down the sideline and sent a ball into the box where senior Keith Kirsch headed it into the net, giving Whitworth the lead and, ultimately, the win.
“We played well against Whitworth and had the run of play, but we couldn’t get that final goal to put it away after we came back and tied the game,” Elhabbassi said.
With goals from junior Connor Bottomly and sophomores Sam Freedman and Brian Percival, Whitman held off the Wildcats for its second NWC win.
With a victory over Linfield, the Missionaries move ahead of the Wildcats in NWC standings.
Freedman used his quickness to penetrate the Linfield defense as he scored near the far post after a long pass from freshman Jed Jacobson.
Six minutes later, after a Linfield foul, Percival booted a free kick from the right side of the field, lofting the ball just over Wildcat goalie Jon Thompson and giving Whitman a two-goal advantage.
Linfield refused to give up, however, as junior Michel Camacho lined up a free kick with eight minutes remaining in the first half. Camacho tallied his second goal of the season as he snuck the ball past Missionary sophomore goalkeeper Nic McDonald.
Early in the second half, after an offsides call erased a Whitman goal, Missionary junior Chris Reid centered a ball for Bottomly, who wasted no time in drilling a shot into the net, giving Whitman a comfortable lead.
Although both Linfield and Whitman tallied 15 shots, the Missionaries put 10 on goal compared to the Wildcats’ seven.
Along with his second score of the season, Camacho ripped seven shots against Whitman, putting four on goal.
Thompson and freshman Cody Tipton combined to make five saves for the Wildcats while McDonald saved six shots.
Linfield has a 2:30 p.m. home matchup against Willamette University on Oct. 11, which is tied with the ’Cats in NWC standings.
The Bearcats are coming off a 3-0 loss to Whitworth on Oct. 4 after beating Whitman 2-1 Oct. 3.
“The key to making a run is winning out and not dropping any games,” Elhabbassi said. “Every team is going to drop games in the second half of the season, and if we do our job we will have a great chance of going to the tournament.”